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Title page for ETD etd-03242019-075544

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Jordan, Megan Lynette
Author's Email Address megan.l.jordan@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-03242019-075544
Title Power to the People: An Intersectional Class Approach to Racial Inequality Alleviation
Degree Master of Arts
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Joshua Murray Committee Chair
Dan Cornfield Committee Member
David Hess Committee Member
  • top down
  • bottom up
  • labor unions
  • homeownership
  • economic inequality
  • social movement
Date of Defense 2019-03-21
Availability restrictone
Despite decades of change, significant racial disparities persist in almost every aspect of life. How to reduce these disparities is not clear and is an enduring matter of debate among activists and scholars. Although dominant approaches take a complex view of the causes of racial inequality focusing on both social psychological and economic structural factors, views on the best way to alleviate racial inequality divide into two main camps: top down and bottom up. The top down approach suggests that minority representation in elite spaces (i.e., as legislators, CEOs, or celebrities) is the key alleviator of racial inequality. Conversely, the bottom up approach argues that collective action of those at the bottom (i.e. the poor and working class) is the key to racial inequality alleviation. In this article, I use data on racial disparities in homeownership by state to test these two theoretical approaches to racial inequality against each other. I find that an intersectional class movement reduces racial inequality. Using the labor movement as an example of an intersectional class movement, I find that union power reduces racial inequality, but racial political representation most likely has no effect on racial inequality at the state level.
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